Entries tagged with “facebook”.


Many people today that consider themselves to be internet savvy might believe that they are too clever to fall for an online scam.  They know that they should not respond to pleas for help from Nigerian princes that need to move furniture for their long-deceased, well-meaning philanthropist great uncle.  They know that any job posting that requires respondents to send their bank routing information is likely not legitimate.  They know that a bank will never send an email asking their account holders to “verify their passwords” by clicking on a link.  But do they know that they shouldn’t click on that link that promises a sneak peak of the iPhone 5?

According to a recent survey by the Ponemon Institute (in collaboration with PC Tools), the answer is “no.”  The temptation is just too much, even for seemingly savvy internet users.  “Almost half (47%) of US respondents identified an online survey with a prize as either a scam or an attempt to get you to buy something later. However, when presented with the test scenarios, more than half (55%) of US respondents indicated they would be likely to provide their personal information to redeem a prize after completing an online survey,” said Richard Clooke, Online Security Expert, PC Tools.

A recent article on CNet emphasizes point made by the survey. Last spring, a number of Facebook users were scammed by a link that offered a look at the new iPhone 5.   According to Elinor Mills, the author of the article, “People who normally ignore all the other scams involving purported free software or naked celebrity photos clicked that fake news link and even completed a captcha on a second site, which reposted the scam to their own Facebook stream. That probably says more about how fanatical people are about Apple products than anything else. But it did raise the question–what does it take to lure someone to click on something that seems fishy?” It would certainly appear that the old cliche “everyone has their price” is analogous to this situation. If scammers can target the right prey with the right bait, people seem to disregard their concerns about fraud.  Target techies and Jobs-o-philes with a promised look at a future Apple product and they’ll likely click away.

The moral of the story – “think before you click.”  Many people associate internet scams with malware and Trojans, but sometimes scammers are looking for more specific information about users so that they can launch more targeted and sophisticated attacks later on.   For example, in the scam listed above,  scammers could perhaps garner email addresses.  Those addresses could then be used in phishing attacks later on to get more sensitive data from individuals.  It’s important to remember not to let your guard down when it comes to cyberscams.

Dr. Heather Mark, Ph.D.

SVP of Market Strategy

“Thank you so much for all your assistance on the phone yesterday, getting my account straightened out - you were wonderful!   Very knowledgeable, helpful, and….patient!   Please let your supervisor know how pleased I was with your customer service skills, it’s getting to be a lost art in today’s business world.” ProPay Customer–Meg Racheli

ProPay is committed to leading the merchant industry in convenient and secure mobile payment solutions and offering quality customer service to answer and meet any questions or concerns anyone might have about those merchant services.  Open Monday-Friday, ProPay’s Customer Service Team is available to personally assist you.  Through Email, Facebook, Twitter and Phone, any representative is available to help you meet your merchant needs.  Each team member specializes in navigating through ProPay’s affordable services.  Whether you need help processing a card, transferring funds, using your ProPay JAK, or resolving a situation with a customer, ProPay’s Customer Service Representatives are ready to answer your concerns.  That service and willingness to connect with the customer while finding the right answer, is what makes ProPay “the leading provider of simple, secure and affordable payment solutions”.

Most users of Facebook are familiar with some of the well-documented privacy issues that the popular social networking site has had over the years.  In fact, the site just recently debuted a number of new settings and processes designed to help protect users’ personal information.   So, one can imagine the chagrin the company feels as yet another privacy violation has made the headlines.  In this instance, it seems that some of the most popular Facebook applications have become culprits – transmitting personal information despite the users’ privacy settings. 

According to a Wall Street Journal article

“Many of the most popular applications, or “apps,” on the social-networking site Facebook Inc. have been transmitting identifying information—in effect, providing access to people’s names and, in some cases, their friends’ names—to dozens of advertising and Internet tracking companies, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found…The Journal found that all of the 10 most popular apps on Facebook were transmitting users’ IDs to outside companies.”

This example illustrates the complexity of privacy issues, irrespective of any security mandates.  In this instance, Facebook’s security is not in question, rather the way in which information is transmitted between the site and it’s third party vendors that provide games and other applications to Facebook’s millions of users.  There are a number of lessons to be taken from this story:

1) Companies must be aware of ALL of the ways in which they are transmitting personal data – whether intentional or not.  Courts take a dim view of the “We didn’t know we were doing that argument.”  We’ve all heard the adage that ignorance is no defence,  and in no arena is that more true than the protection of personal data. 

2) Third-parties must be vetted, evaluated and monitored to ensure that any data that is being transmitted to them is being appropriately used and protected.  One cannot assume that the third party has the same privacy practices.  Contractual obligations, third-party evaluations and annual reviews can help to assure companies that their partners are offering an appropriate level of privacy protections to personal information. 

3) Individuals must take ownership of their online identities.  While it is comforting to point at companies and shake our heads at a lamentable lack of privacy protections, we must also realize that as individuals we have the right and the responsiblity to monitor the data that we provide.  Many applications have separate terms and conditions and may even warn users that installation of the “app” will result in sharing of personal information. 

As life becomes increasingly “virtual,” personal information becomes more and more vulnerable.  Both companies and individuals must be ever more vigilant in the protection of that information. Companies need to ensure that data that has been provided to them is used appropriately and is adequately protected.  Meanwhile, consumers need to be increasingly discriminating in what information they share online and with whom they share it. 

For more information on Facebook’s privacy settings and tools, visit their privacy guide.

Dr. Heather Mark, PhD. SVP of Market Strategy

This morning while driving into the office I was listening to Headline News on Sirius (a plug for Sirius radio).  According to the story some banks are now using social media such as Facebook to determine an applicant’s risk rating and suitability for a loan.  If, for example, your facebook profile states that you have recently been fired or layed-off or are going through a divorce, this may indicate to the bank that you are a higher risk  (irrespective of your credit score) and you may be declined.  Conversely, if your ‘friends’ on Facebook are good credit risks the banks are more inclined to consider you a ‘good credit risk’ and approve the loan.  According to recent statistics over 500 million people are now on Facebook.  I am always somewhat surprised at the amount of personal information people will freely put on their Facebook account.   Now it appears that users should be even more careful as this information may be used to guage your suitability for credit.